Corentin Biteau

Independent researcher @ Effective Altruism France
472 karmaJoined Mar 2022Seeking workWorking (6-15 years)Lyon, France



I'm living in Lyon, France. Learned about EA in 2018, found that great, digged a lot into the topic. The idea of "what in the world improves well-being or causes suffering the most, and what can we do" really influenced me a whole lot - especially when mixed with meditation that allowed me to be more active in my life.

I'm doing a lot of personal research on a whole lot of topics. I also co-wrote a book in French with a few recommendations on how to take action for a better world, and included a chapter on EA (the title is "Agir pour un Monde Durable"). I've participated in a few conferences after that, it's a good way to improve oral skills.

One of the most reliable thing I have found so far is helping animal charities : farmed animals are much more numerous than humans (and have much worse living conditions), and there absolutely is evidence that animal charities are getting some improvements (especially from The Humane League). I tried to donate a lot there. 

Long-termism could also be important, but I think that we'll hit energy limits before getting to an extinction event - I wrote an EA forum post for that here: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/wXzc75txE5hbHqYug/the-great-energy-descent-short-version-an-important-thing-ea

How others can help me

If I can get a job in EA one day, in a position where I can analyze and synthetize important stuff, I'd be really happy!

How I can help others

I just have an interest in whatever topic sounds really important, so I have a LOT of data on a lot of topics.  These include energy, the environment, resource depletion, simple ways to understand the economy, limits to growth, why we fail to solve the sustainability issue, and how we got to that very weird specific point in history.

I also have a lot of stuff on Buddhism and meditation and on "what makes us happy" (check the Waking Up app!)


Ah, that's interesting. I didn't know that. 

I had in mind that maybe the power of thought could allow us to put things into perspective better and better support pain (as can be experienced through meditation). However, this can go both ways, as negative thoughts can cause additional suffering.

But I shall check the suggestion by Dawkins, that sounds interesting.

Thanks a lot for this post!

I was thinking of doing something similar myself.

And I must admit I agree with the conclusion, especially as I have trouble seeing how their ability to suffer can be much lower than ours (I mean, we have a lot of evolutionary history in common. I can't really justify how my cat would be able to feel an amount of pain ten times lower than mine).

Since animals are far more numerous than humans, they have much worse living conditions, much less money is spent on their welfare than on human well-being, and animal charities are more funding-constrained, it's hard to see how working on them can be less cost-effective.

Thank you for the answer. This is the kind of argument I am looking for to update my worldview. 

This indeed reduces my confidence in what Michaux proposes. I was not aware of that many different flaws. This is a valuable counter to some of the claims in my posts.


I've depriorized my work on the topic a bit given the difficulty to have an impact there - but I'll try to check your links an update my post.

(btw, I think the reason someone downvoted was because your writing style is not in line compared to forum guidelines, as it might come to some as a bit agressive)


Right now, my worries are less about long-term scenarios where society and scientific research are kept stable until 2050 (as climate scenarios are usually doing). 

I'm more worried about the short-term limits on oil production in a world where a lot of time is required to build up renewable or nuclear capacity - especially for new areas like electric trucks, or for scaling up metal production. And the issues this would cause on economic growth, investment capacity, societal trust, and complex worldwide supply chains.

What do you think about this topic ?

Well, hopefully, but given the current trends, I'd be very wary of that - it could very well be that factory farming continues forever and expands to other planets.

See these articles : Optimistic longtermist is terrible for animals, Why factory farming might be there forever, and this one explains why cellular meat might not replace everything.

Thanks for the post ! 

This is a question I have asked myself for a long time, and that I don't like asking myself, but that I find incredibly important. I'm less motivated to work on x-risks if in practice it means "supporting to continuation of factory farming for a long, long time".

I also think that including this possibility into other cause areas might be very important. This advice especially seems very crucial : modeling the animal welfare impacts of human health and global development interventions.

I'll note that while there are indeed massive uncertainties, I really have trouble seeing how the combined happiness of humanity might outweight the terrible suffering of farmed animals, since they are far more numerous and have far worse living conditions(although wild animal suffering might change everything). Especially since there are > 4x as many farmed chickens as humans, and > 10x more farmed fish and shrimp, with terrible living conditions.

Instinctively, of course, I think of humans as having more worth, and I like the idea of saving lives. But in practice, I don't find good arguments to justify that humans have a much higher moral weight than other animals.

This is a good question. I'd instinctively be wary of misanthropic views, and I don't like asking myself these kind of questions, but I'm not sure my instinct is enough to make a good decision here.

Another way to pose the question could be : Should we strive to preserve the lives of those that (although inadvertantly, and probably not out of bad intentions) cause terrible harms ?

Neuron count doesn't seem to be that good to indicate the sentience of other beings.

See the post Why Neuron Counts Shouldn't Be Used as Proxies for Moral Weight

I'd be very skeptical as well of the views of the majority of humans, since we tend to be extremely biased to favor our own species, for evolutionary, cultural and biological reasons. We also benefit directly from a society that treats humans correctly, and benefit directly from animal exploitation. Some studies indicate that we put a lower moral weight to cows when there's beef at lunch.

Plus, few people though about the topic seriously, and we are just pretty bad at imagining the happiness of other beings. We put the moral weight of a dog much higher than that of a pig (despite pigs being smarter than dogs), because we are closer to them.

There's also a strong social stigma against those that dare to suggest otherwise.


Imagine that we were able to ask carps how much they'd weigh their own lives compared to that of humans. It would be pretty unlikely that they'd say "well, I disagree with your 12 to 1 human/carp ratio, I rather think that it's worth sacrificing a hundred of us for one human life, definitely".

So far, the only charity I'm aware of that's working on this topic is the Shrimp Welfare Project.

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